The 1984 European Championship in France will be remembered most for one match and in particular, the performances of one man. In the next installment of The Panenka’s series we are taken to another tournament held in France where Les Blues and ‘carre magique’ reigned superior.
In one of the most exciting matches of the competition’s history, a France team inspired by Michel Platini fought their way to the final via extra time against Portugal in this fondly remembered and nail-biting tie.
France entered the European Championships with the wounds of a World Cup semi final defeat to West Germany still raw. However, in 1984 Les Blues has every reason to be confident on home soil in two years later.
The hosts began their home tournament with a revamped defense and added Luis Fernandez to a talented midfield containing Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana. At the tournament he midfield quartet earned the nickname ‘carre magique’ or ‘magic square’.
Michel Platini arrived at the peak of his powers and was undoubtedly the star of the tournament and the France team. The Frenchman had just won a Serie A title and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup with Juventus. Months earlier he had also been awarded the second of three consecutive Ballon d’Ors.
At Euro 84 Platini finished as the tournament’s top scorer with a tally of nine goals and scored in every game to take his team to the final. As recognition for his achievements with Les Blues he received the honor of being labeled as the French Player of the Century in 1999.
The 1984 European Championships was an opportunity for the host nation to exercise the demons of their 1982 World Cup semi-final defeat against West Germany. At the tournament in Spain the French saw a two-goal lead evaporate before being defeated on penalties. The shootout elimination was the first time a team had been sent home after losing on penalties at a World Cup.
The 1984 tournament consisted of 8 eight teams in two group with the top two progressing to the semi finals. France finished top of Group A with a 1-0 victory over Denmark, a 5-0 win against Belgium and a 3-2 win versus Yugoslavia. Platini was the conductor of the French orchestra in the group stage as he scored the only goal against the Danes and a hat-trick against both Belgium and Yugoslavia.
Portugal meanwhile booked their place in the semi final by finishing second in Group B behind eventual runners up Spain. Portugal held World Champions West Germany 0-0 in their opening game and did the same to Spain in their second with a 1-1 draw. In their third and final group game they defeated Romania with an 81st minute Nene goal to earn the right to play France in the semis held Marseille three days later.
The teams were welcomed at Le Stade Velodrome in Marseille with a raucous and rapturous reception. The teams took the field at sundown to a riot of color and noise surrounded by thousands of red, white and blue Tricolores.
In the opening exchanges the two teams displayed their familiar styles. The French fluid and languid controlled the ball while Portugal dogged and determined fought their corner.
France took the lead after 24 minuets via a free-kick. As Platini stood over the dead ball, no one expected defender Jean-Francois Domergue to step up and unleash a swerving shot that fizzed into the net.
At 1-0 the game was largely one-way traffic from that point. Portugal keeper Bento saved at the feet of both Luis Fernandez and Platini before twice denying Alain Giresse.
Against the run of play on 75 minutes Chalana appeared on the left, dinked in a shallow cross and the hard-working Jordão headed in his first goal of the tournament. The tie was condemned to extra time when Bento made yet another save to deny Platini before acrobatically deflecting Didier Six’s follow up onto the bar to complete a ludicrous double save.
Eight minutes into extra time Chalana again provided another cross for Portugal to score and take the lead. This time it looked like the delivery had been overcooked but the ball found its way to Jordão who volleyed into the ground. The shot looped over France keeper Joel Bats and dropped into the far top corner in fortune fashion.
Having led for the majority of the game France were now on the precipice of receiving another gut wrenching defeat in the dying moments at a major tournament and threw everything they had into attack.
With six minutes left two defenders were involved in France’s equalizer when build up play by Domergue and Yvon Le Roux eventually reached Platini. In the process of being tackled the number ten got the ball wide and out of his feet just in time to feed Domergue who belted the ball into the roof of the net to bring the scores level at 2-2.
Portugal were hanging on for penalties but still the French came forward. Jean Tigana had been a constant thorn in the side of the Portugal and made one last foray forward.
In the 119th minute Tigana had a pass blocked but immediately won it back and emptied his lungs to take the ball to the byline. Having just played nearly 120 minutes it is astonishing where Tigana found the energy to provide a cut back that eluded an onrushing Bento and fell to Platini on the edge of the six-yard box. With three defenders and a recovering Bento on the line the unflappable holder of the Ballon d’Or coolly rifled the winner home with a rising shot.
In five breathtaking minutes France had gone from the verge of being knocked out to finalists. The French reveled in their victory and went on to win the tournament final in Paris 2-0 against Spain.